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If you’ve ever struggled with sharpening a card scraper or using your handplanes while building furniture, there are two new DVDs on these topics you should find useful.

“Hand Scrapers: Understanding, Preparing and Using the Ultimate Finishing Tool” and “Building Furniture with Hand Planes” were produced by Lie-Nielsen Toolworks and hosted by Popular Woodworking editor Christopher Schwarz (that’s me).

The DVD on scrapers is based on my research into all the conflicting advice given on sharpening scrapers. I went through every one of my woodworking books and found 14 distinctly different methods explained for preparing this simple rectangle of steel. Using each of these techniques, I then prepared 14 scrapers and we compared the results in our shop here at Popular Woodworking.

And, as is our way, we took the best details from all the techniques to create a 15th way to sharpen card scrapers that is fast and makes a hook that is far more durable than those on any other scraper I’ve used. This 30-minute DVD shows you, step-by-step, how to prepare a scraper using these methods and how to properly use the tool.

Now, I generally am the harshest critic of own work (just ask Lucy, my spouse), but this DVD and the technique shown is one of the things I’m most proud of in my 11 years here at the magazine. It really was one of those few “a-ha” moments of my career. I hope you’ll agree.

The other DVD, “Building Furniture with Hand Planes,” explores a realm of hand-tool instruction that gets little ink. While there are endless articles on how to set up a plane (I should know, I’ve written some of them), there is precious little advice out there on how to actually use the tools on furniture. After all, we don’t make shavings, we make furniture.

This 60-minute DVD shows you how to use a jointer plane, smoothing plane and block plane when building furniture. I offer my method for setting up all three planes with slightly curved cutting edges and how to use those curved edges to your advantage when making furniture.

With the jointer plane (one of my all-time favorite tools), I discuss:
– How to work on edges to produce square, straight edges and spring joints.
– How to work on assembled panels and case sides to flatten them using cross-grain and diagonal strokes.
– How to turn your tail vise into a huge shooting board (an old French trick).
– How to gang-plane your boards to identical thickness.
– How to cut tapers to fit an inset door.
– Match-planing, the pros and cons.

With the smoothing plane, I discuss:
– How to set up the tool to take a very fine shaving.
– How to use your smoother as little as possible (and why)
– How to smooth assemblies.

And for the block plane, I discuss:
– Why a curved iron is sometimes desirable.
– How to trim end grain without blowing out the ends of your work.
– How to use the tool for chamfering and in conjunction with your jointer plane to eliminate the splintering of edges.

The DVD on scrapers costs $20; the DVD on using planes in furniture work is $25. Both are in stock and available from Lie-Nielsen Toolworks. Also, all Chris’s proceeds from these two DVDs go to the Roger Cliffe Memorial Fund, a charity that provides tuition assistance to students in need at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking. So your purchase will help other woodworkers.

– Christopher Schwarz

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Showing 2 comments
  • Chris Schwarz


    All the commercial stuff is decided by Lie-Nielsen. I just donate my time and wild theories. Perhaps they’ll bundle them before they end up as drink coasters.


  • Pedro Massabie

    I wonder if you are considering bundling the sale of the 4 DVDs altogether.



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